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6 Tricks to Optimize Your Wallet

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Keeping your wallet organized isn’t a habit that just neat freaks should adopt. An organized and optimized wallet can help you save major money in two ways — limiting spending and optimizing your credit rewards.

We put out the call to our readers for their best tips on how they keep their wallet in shape and primed for shopping.

1. Keep It Simple

Several readers commented on our Facebook page that simplicity is the recipe for success. Kristen Christian, the founder of the Bank Transfer Day movement and a consumer advocate, even weighed in.

“I’m all about minimalism in general,” Christian said. “I use my passport case as a wallet & only carry my ID, debit card and credit card in it.”

Carrying only one credit and debit card can have its advantages, especially if you’re prone to losing things. Only carrying one or two cards instead of five or six makes it less of a hassle to cancel those cards if you lose your wallet. (And definitely cancel any cards you can’t find in order to protect your identity and your money.)

2. Organize Your Cards by Cash-Back Bonuses

This is a tip I like to live by. Since I have multiple credit cards, all with different 5% cash-back rewards categories depending on the month, I like to keep them organized using a very simple system I call “the hierarchy.”

To implement this system, you need to first be diligent about signing yourself up for revolving rewards categories by logging on to your credit card issuer’s site and following the steps they list. Next, grab a handy post-it and write down the types of purchases you make most often. For example, if you’re a big movie-goer, then Discover is giving 5% cash back this month on all movie ticket purchases so you would mark that on the note. The final step is simple — stick that note in your wallet or billfold. It will be a handy cheat sheet the next time you’re waiting in line to see “Magic Mike” and can’t remember which card will give you the best rewards.

3. Keep Receipts, But Clean Them Out Once a Week

The University of Illinois Student Money Management Center gaves us this tip on Twitter.

Cleaning out your receipts once a week has three benefits. First, it can help you keep track of what you’re buying before your monthly bill gets too high. After all, if you notice that you had dinner out four nights in a week, you can remind yourself that this week should be a Ramen noodle fest to help save some cash.

Second, keeping your receipts can help you dispute any charges you feel are incorrect. If your issuer has charged you twice for the same purchase or you notice that a recent taxi ride had more tip added than you wrote down, you have some written record for going back and disputing the charge with the company or the issuer. The final benefit of this tip is that it will keep all of that paper out of your wallet and in a safe space come tax season.

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4. Think Small

It’s easy when you have a wallet with 50 card slots and four different compartments to lose a receipt, a coupon or a credit card. So, our friends at SavvyMoney told us on Facebook that their office recommends downsizing your wallet to a smaller one.

This way, you limit the amount of space you have to play with and can make tough choices like whether to keep the ice cream shop rewards card you haven’t used in six months or the Blockbuster gift card Nana gave you last year for Christmas.

5. Keep Rewards Cards with Your Coupons

Our Facebook friend Melodie Tao shared this tip with us.

“For cards, coupons and other things I don’t need access to all the time I have a different pouch that I keep in my car in case I need it but I don’t keep it in my purse because it weighs me down,” she said.

If you have a variety of credit and debit cards, this strategy could work well since it opens up more room in your purse or wallet for all of your plastic. The other plus side to this strategy is that it forces you to think about whether or not you’ll need the rewards card or coupon when you leave your car, which will remind you to take advantage of certain deals you might have overlooked otherwise.

6. Treat Your Dollar Bills Like Change

This is a really creative tip from one of our Twitter followers, Dave Slattery.

“Use money clip with 3 things: credit card, bank card, and cash (no $1s, remove them when u get home and save like coins),” Slattery tweeted.

Here’s what we love about this tip: It helps you save, it controls further spending and it gives you an incentive to use exact change and keep your wallet neat. By putting the dollar bills into a savings jar, you’re actively saving money. Also, it helps you avoid some of those small expenses that can pile up like trips to the vending machine (if you don’t have dollar bills, you can’t get that Snickers bar). And finally, it should inspire you to try to make exact change for people. After all, if you break $20 bills all day long, you could wind up with a lot of $1 bills that leave your wallet every night.

Disagree with any of these tips or think we should add a trick you’ve been using? Tell us in the comments below!

Image: Bright Meadow, via Flickr

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